Sentence Wars

On Fridays, we have started having Sentence Wars where students work together to create the most correctly written sentences using the focus skill of the week.  In order for a sentence to “count,” it must be written correctly including punctuation.  Winning students get to put their names on the door as recognition.

Once the students turn their sentences in, they continue using the focus skill in their writing journals.  First, they find examples of the focus skill in previous journal entries or they edit a previous entry to include the focus skill.  Then, they have time to write a new new entry or to continue the previous entry making sure to include examples of the focus skill.  While they are writing, I have time to check their sentences to find the winning group.  This last time, we had a group in one class that had 12 out of 15 correct sentences, but we had one group that had 11 sentences in total and all were correct.  To celebrate the care that the second group took, members of both groups were able to put their names on the door.

To increase the challenge, I am going to start giving my advanced classes subjects and verbs that are more random.  This will force them to write better sentences as they have to provide more context to their sentences.




Directions given to the kids each Friday.


Picture of the door–can’t figure out why it gets rotated when uploaded to the blog. Sorry.


First Lines–Journal Prompts

Here are some famous first lines from different books and movies.  Students will write a story where one of the lines must appear, authentically, in the story.  The line doesn’t have to be the first line, but it does have to appear.

  • It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.
  • All this happened, more or less.
  • I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.
  • It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
  • When he was nearly thirteen, my brother, Jem, got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
  • What’s your dream?
  • All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
  • Marley was dead, to begin with.

Thanksgiving Writing Prompts

Here are some Thanksgiving writing prompt ideas.  What a great time of year!

  • Write a persuasive letter from Tom the Turkey to the cook persuading him to serve ham, pig, instead of turkey on Thanksgiving.
  • Change of Perspective–Change how we see frustrations many of us have day-to-day. This could also be fun to do from the point of view of a character from a book or from history.   Ideas like–When my wi-fi is down…at least I have access to a computer.  When my hand hurts from carrying groceries…at least I have fresh food on my table.
  • Thanksgiving Conversation Topic–You can spend Thanksgiving dinner with only one person this year. It could be a member of your family, a friend, a historical figure or a fictional character. Who would it be and what would you want to talk to them about?
  • A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving–Video Writing Prompts–K-12 Ideas   

     Clip for the Writing Prompt  

    Full Video
  •  Thanksgiving Protests–So it’s Thanksgiving…What sly tactics do you think a turkey would use to avoid becoming Thanksgiving dinner?  Brainstorm arguments a turkey might make to convince a human being not to eat him at Thanksgiving this year.  Write what the turkey would say to get out of being eaten.  This site has a detailed lesson plan with mentor texts and student examples.

Prouder to be a Reader than a Big Time Football Player

What a great story about Malcolm Mitchell, a star football player for the University of Georgia, and how he joined a women’s book study because he works hard to be a reader.  This will be a writing prompt for my students coming up soon.

Football Star Shows You Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Bell Ringer Ideas from Edutopia

More great ideas from


Other Ideas for Bell Ringers–

Photographs- my board from Pinterest–Daily articles with comprehension questions.  Remember to preview the articles.

A Google a Day

180 Journal Writing Prompts

The Daily Post-A Prompt a Day  Not all are school appropriate; however, many great ideas.

New (School) Year Resolutions

I came across this post on a blog I read and thought it would be interesting to have students write New Year Resolutions at the start of the school year.  This will be a great way for students to start their year off on the right foot.

Thanks for the idea.

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge:  Texture

These pictures are of two table cloths made by the women in my life.  They are so beautifully crafted, and I was blessed to be able to use them for my wedding.  It was a special way to remember them on a wonderful day.  They would have been proud to see me use them.


March 30, 2013_144051  IMG_2849

Journal Ideas

I am always on the lookout for creative or unusual prompts that can be used for fairly quick journaling sessions.  Here are some that I have come across.

**Heather E. Wright:  Resources for Teen and Preteen Writers and Their Teachers

What kind of scene can you build around these lines of dialogue.

1. Where are you going?


Look at the sky.

2. I want to go now.

That’s impossible.


You haven’t met Sirus yet.

3. The place has changed since I was here last.

One thing has stayed the same though.

What’s that?

It’s still dangerous.


**The Daily Post–Posts a prompt a day.

1. Odd Trio Redux

Time for another Odd Trio prompt: write a post about any topic you want, in whatever form or genre, but make sure it features a slice of cake, a pair of flip-flops, and someone old and wise.

2. Object Lesson

Sherlock Holmes had his pipe. Dorothy had her red shoes. Batman had his Batmobile. If we asked your friends what object they most immediately associate with you, what would they answer?

3. Nosey Delights

From the yeasty warmth of freshly baked bread to the clean, summery haze of lavender flowers, we all have favorite smells we find particularly comforting. What’s yours?


** Photographs This link will take you to one of my Pinterest boards where I have pinned cool pictures that act as wonderful prompts.


**Mona Lisa’s Point of View

Write a narrative from Mona Lisa’s point of view.  How does she feel having people stare at her all day?  What kinds of sights and sounds does she view from her perspective?


Using a Rick Bragg’s Writing in the Middle School Writing Classroom

Do you enjoy humorous stories about the south?  If so, you must check out Rick Bragg’s writing.  Rick Bragg is a southern writer who is published in each edition of Southern Living.  I have found ways to use his humorous stories in my classroom.

Interviews by Rick Bragg

Links to Stories by Rick Bragg

southern-journal-the-quill-and-the-mule  I have my students write a story that contains a dead mule…you must read the article to understand.

the-porch-article (1)  I have my students write about a place in their lives…a church pew, the cafeteria, a park, their grandparents’ table.